HSE Welcomes Decline in Teenage Births

The HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme has welcomed birth figures, released at the end of May 2013 by the Central Statistics Office, showing a further decline in the number of births to teenagers, from 1,720 in 2011 to 1,639 in 2012.

The number of teenage births has substantially declined since 2001, when the Crisis Pregnancy Programme was established. Recent survey results show that the number of young people saying that they are getting good quality Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) has increased. It is also showing that the age of first sexual intercourse is stable, at 17 years of age and there are very high rates of contraceptive use reported among young people who are sexually active. The research also found that young people who received sex education were more likely to use contraception when they had sex for the first time. The partnerships set up between the health, education and voluntary sectors to address these issues are showing dividends, evidenced by the figures.

The number of births to teenagers has declined from 3,087 in 2001 to 1,639 in 2012. This represents a 47% decrease. This equates to a decrease in the teenage birth rate from 20 per 1000 in 2001 to 12 per 1000 in 2012. The majority of teenage births are to girls that are 18 and 19 years of age.

The RSE Programme in schools and youth work settings, and relationships and sex education provided by parents, is having a significant impact on the use of contraception at first sex and on the ongoing decline in births to teenage girls. But it is also important not to be complacent – not all schools are delivering the RSE programme in Senior Cycle and parents continue to report difficulties in talking to their children about relationships and sexual health. The HSE provides a dedicated website, b4udecide.ie, that helps parents to begin talking to their child about relationships and sex.

b4udecide.ie is a source of information on relationships and sexual health for teenagers developed by the Crisis Pregnancy Programme in partnership with the Department of Education and Skills and the National Youth Council of Ireland. The website is supported by resource materials for teachers and youth workers, which are available, free of charge on healthpromotion.ie and through training provided by the SPHE Support Service and the National Youth Council of Ireland. For more details visit b4udecide.ie

The HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme funds a range of projects for young people at increased risk of crisis pregnancy. It also funds Relationships and Sexuality Education training for youth workers and parents.

Please see www.crisispregnancy.ie for more information.